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The Right Response Plan for Negative Reviews

April 26, 2022

Adam Lueken

It’s becoming easier and easier to digitally share our thoughts about the products and services we use regularly through social media or review sites. If a patient likes the care/service/product they received, a glowing review online from them can help drive others to you. But on the other side, if they have an issue with the care/service/product received, their negative reviews online can do the exact opposite.

All positive reviews all the time (which is something to still work toward) would be great, but that’s not very realistic. There is bound to be a negative review from time to time as a result of miscommunication or a mistake (typically 93.5% of patient complaints result from miscommunication). You shouldn’t take negative feedback personally or get defensive, but you should recognize when it happens, do your best to resolve the situation and take the necessary actions to avoid that issue in the future. If dealing with a negative review, here are a few steps to consider.

Don’t Ignore Negative Reviews
You may be tempted to simply forget about a bad comment or review, but in most situations, it’s best to create a professional response. Responding timely and effectively with the right tone will show the patient you are listening to their concerns and can help you possibly salvage that relationship. You should also evaluate the nature of the review. Most of the time, bad reviews should be taken seriously. But if it has nothing to do with their patient experience, is personally attacking or profane, other actions may be necessary.

Develop the Right Response Plan
• Before responding, take some time to review the issue and situation. Is this an isolated incident or a reoccurring issue? Was there miscommunication and what was it?
• When responding, keep your cool. Don’t get defensive or angry. That’s not going to resolve the issue or help you attract more patients. Also, when you allow emotions to drive your response, whether positive or negative, it can be easier to mistakenly disclose patient information and violate HIPAA.
• To resolve the patient’s concern and learn more about the situation, use questions like, “Can you explain the situation further? Can you walk me through your visit so I fully understand?”
• Be understanding. More often than not, a negative patient review is the result of the patient feeling a loss of control. Some of this may have to do with what happened when they visited your practice, but it could also be tied to one or more other things going on in their life.
• If you feel it’s needed, call them instead of replying directly online. You can also use email to politely encourage the person to call your practice so you can resolve the situation over the phone. When speaking with the patient on the phone, acknowledge their concerns and ask a redirect question to get the patient to refocus on their goals.
• Thank them for their feedback. The reviewer took the time to make you aware of an issue, so you have the opportunity to address a potential problem. Had they shared their feedback elsewhere, it would not have been possible for you to understand and fix the problem.

Learn From Negative Reviews
In most cases, there is always something to take away from a negative review. If you know that the negative feedback is accurate, be proactive with fixing the problem and avoid similar issues in the future. Get your team involved too. Brainstorm with them possible solutions. For example, if you’re seeing reviews complaining about long wait times, look for ways to improve team efficiencies. Create something positive from the negative feedback.

A great way to reduce the impact of negative reviews and keep your online reputation intact is to drive more positive reviews. These will keep your overall scores high and push down negative reviews on the page. There are many resources out there to help you manage your online reviews.

We also help support patient communications. If you need help with your online reviews and reputation management, VitalSkin may be the right option for you. We’re always a phone call or click away to discuss. Schedule a consultation with one of our practice management experts today!



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